A question from the ’50s: Whatever happened to romance, hearts & flowers?

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1959 couple dancing romance dating

Hearts and flowers are no longer theme of courtship

By Betty A. Dietz

Boy meets girl, boy marries girl. That just about summarizes the modern courtship, American style.

If she’s lucky, however, today’s sweet young thing with the stars in her eyes may be swept off her feet — as the saying goes — by a round of football games, a platter of pizza and a bit of woo at a drive-in movie.

Whatever happened to the old-fashioned courtship — complete with hearts and flowers?

The girls themselves are to blame, judging from the results of an informal survey.

“American girls are trained to face the world alone. They’re so independent,” muses Mexican-born Mrs Adam Trapp. Even in Mexico, all the wonderful courtship customs are fading from the picture, Mrs Trapp adds sadly. Reason, she says, is the presence of numerous exchange students there. The chaperone has all but disappeared.

Woman with flowers from 1958

Modern girls are too practical for romance, one young wife says, adding that hers is the voice of experience.

“I wish I has insisted on some elegant evenings — you know, theater and dancing. But I thought we should save our money. We’re still trying to save,” she adds wryly. “But even the most practical girl expects a candy and flowers once in a while — maybe only for special occasions,” points out Mrs Jack Ellis. “If he forgets before marriage, though, look out.”

MORE: Courtship and dating: Though romance matters, money also counts (1952)

A bright-eyed girl in a gray flannel suit, however, turns down on the formal type of courtship. This working bride, married last June, admits he delighted in the kind of informal fun her husband served up during “courting” days. “No plans for me,” she explains. “I like to be surprised.”

Little “fun” gifts rate higher with most young women than the more costly presents.

1958 couple dating - romance

Costume jewelry

“You can buy good costume jewelry anywhere,” says one bride-to-be. “I’d rather have a single flower or some little gadget. Maybe a stuffed animal.”

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One of her co-workers still treasures a Chinese back-scratcher from her husband. A former small-town girl still gets dreamy-eyed about a date who brought her gardenias from a plant in his mother’s garden.

“The old-fashioned courtship might not be such a bad idea after all,” suggests Mrs. William Balock. “At least it would different. Might even prevent some divorces.”

“A man used to send cut roses — the symbol of love — or orchids. Today he wants a blooming plant,” sighs Herb Mitchell, local florist. “It has to last for a few weeks.”

Mitchell blames the women, says their own practicality has nipped romance in the bud. That’s the problem, one recent bridegroom points: “The girls want to be sensible to prove they’re good wife material, but once they catch the guy, they expect to be courted for the rest of their lives.”


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